O me’a”kwa: Reimagine, Re-emerge, Reunite 

I am very excited to remind you that we are just 10 days away from the opening of our 23rd Annual American Indian Tourism Conference (AITC), which begins on October 25 in Fort McDowell, Arizona.

It is so hard to believe it has been more than a year since the launch of our first-ever virtual conference and more than two years since we’ve all had a chance to connect in person. For those of you joining us in Arizona, we are so excited to be able to share some time together. And, for those of you yet unable to travel we look forward to seeing you next year.

Although the conference officially begins on Monday, Oct. 25, there are several events to be mindful of before the conference even begins including the Charity Golf Tournament, two Mobile Workshops highlighting Fort McDowell Yavapai culture and our introductory Business of Art workshop.

The AITC officially kicks off the evening of Monday, Oct. 25. The superstar team at Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort have been crafting what promises to be a superstar celebration at the We-Ko-Pa Grille. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises they have in store for us, but let’s just say, you don’t want to miss this event.

The following day we kick off the business side of the conference with a welcome truly worthy of our AITC theme, “Reimagine, Re-emerge, Reunite: Stronger Together in Indian Country.” If you are attending AITC, please remember to wear your regalia, ribbon skirt or ribbon shirt for an AITC-style Grand Entry.

There are plenty more amazing experiences in store. AIANTA will be releasing a new tourism research study, revealing more details about our new partnerships with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and the America250 Foundation, and we’re getting a private showing of Into America’s Wild, the MacGillivray Freeman film produced in partnership with BrandUSA, United Airlines and Expedia. The film is narrated by Morgan Freeman and stars John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut and Native Alaska bush pilot Ariel Tweto, who both joined us in Tulsa at our last in-person conference.

We close the conference with a “Heart Speaks” keynote speech by social media influencer Patuk Glenn, the Inupiaq Native who has gone viral for her authentic posts on Alaska Native culture. Following Patuk’s presentation, we will present our annual Excellence in Tourism Industry Awards, celebrating the best of the best in Indian Country tourism.

This gala event is being hosted at La Puesta del Sol, We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort’s deluxe outdoor event space. The gala is themed “Turquoise and Denim,” so be sure to dress accordingly. No turquoise? No problem. With more than 30 artisans at our Art Market, we’re sure you’ll find something you can wear.

We know not all of you can join us this year and we understand the challenges you all face, but we admit, we are delighted to be able to “reunite” with those of you who will be able to make the journey. Registration is still open, so if you haven’t yet decided, please contact Sherrie Bowman at sbowman@aianta.org who can provide you with all the details you need. Or visit www.aianta.org/aitc for more information and a complete schedule of events.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

(See you later, Northern Paiute)

Sherry L. Rupert, Chief Executive Officer
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association

P.S. We know you have questions about our COVID-19 policies. Please know that you will be required to show your vaccination record (we recommend you keep it digitally with CLEAR) upon registration. If you aren’t vaccinated, you will be required to present negative COVID-19 test results from a test administered no more than 72 hours in advance of the start of the conference. On-site testing will be available, but it will be at your cost.